3-day Droid owner - impressions

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions & Site Assistance' started by SamCal, Dec 25, 2009.

  1. SamCal
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    SamCal New Member

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    Hey everyone. 1st post here, so pls forgive any newbie forum mistakes.

    After 3-1/2 days, I am totally awed by this device. :icon_ banana:

    It replaced an aging AT&T BlackJack (BJ). I only bought the Droid after verifying existence of an external entenna port under the battery cover, because I work inside a concrete, windowless bunker located inside an aircraft hangar. I am in Pacific NW - meaning it's usually overcast and raining. With my BJ inside the bldg I have zero bars 95% of the time (even on the best of days). I also use VZW Novatel USB727 connected to my laptop (AT&T never could get the BJ to tether with their plan) and require an external antenna to boost the signal enough to maintain a connection. I can connect for data most days - but at very minimal 1X speeds.

    I brought the Droid into my office on Christmas eve to see if my external antenna connector would fit the incredibly tiny jack under the battery cover. Nope. But... wait a minute... am I seeing 3~4 bars with a 3G indication? Without an external antenna?! "No way", I thought. Then I began testing downloads (apps, for example), checking my POP3 mail accounts, sending SMS, etc. It was AMAZING! The tech guy in the VZW store (Go Wireless franchise, actually) told me I may not need the antenna with the Droid, but I was very skeptical. But he was absolutely correct. So far I am mesmerized by the quality of the hardware, its tight integration with the OS, and the Google influence.

    I own three personal navigator GPS (Garmin, TomTom, Navigon). The Droid's Google Maps implementation is considerably more friendly and having the satellite view (and Strret View, when necesssary) is incredible. (I do miss Garmin's desktop software, though, for planning routes and such that get downloaded into the GPS.) The Droid's GPS is very accurate; with satellite view I can actually track my movement inside my house. The blue dot is superimposed on my roof and follows me around.

    The Multimedia Dock and GPS car mount work very well. The $30 dock is a bargain in my opinion, considering it comes with a 115VAC->5VDC power supply and USB to micro-USB cable. Moto even delivered it via overnight FEDEX for FREE. :) I bought two: one for home and one for my desk at work. And it's definitely small enough to toss inside a shoe for travel, too!

    The Android Marketplace is incredibly diverse; I was very surprised. Already loaded up on some very, very useful programs including my favorite travel site (Kayak), Linked-In, MySpace, G-Mail, etc. My favorite apps to play with is "Tricorder" (I work in electronic warfare) and a couple of guitar tuners. The Tricorder app really demonstrates the amount of technology packed into this amazing little box.

    Wish list of things I could use right now! (I am a newbie and these may already exist. If so, please let me know.)

    1) Make the Google Maps (in navigation mode) overlay rotate so the map (or satellite view) image on the Droid's screen is always oriented the same as I view through the windshield.

    2) App to 'run' the Droid from a desktop keyboard - and monitor, if possible. I found multiple apps to control a PC from the Droid (e.g., run PowerPoint) but not the other way around. A couple of Bluetooth keyboard apps are listed in the Marketplace but nothing is reviewed as stable and usable.

    3) Support for a SmartCard security token. I assume this would require some kind of USB or BT connectivity for a chip reader.

    4) Stand-alone battery charger. I bought a spare battery from Moto but they did not have a stand-alone charger (like the BJ included in the box with the extended-life battery.) It would have been GREAT to include this into the design of the multimedia dock! I see some big external Li-Ion batteries that you may connect and recharge, but then I have to carry another Li-Ion battery. I'd rather have a small external charger (like the BJ model) that weighs about on ounce and connects via the standard charge cables for the phone. Less stuff to carry.


    Hints for other newbie Droid users:

    1) Body Glove brand leather horizontal carrying case fits the Droid *perfectly*. Available at Radio Shack. It has a magnetic closure, so you have to be careful on the direction the screen faces when inserting it. (The Droid has magnetic sensors under its back cover to tell which accessories are in use. The magnetic catch on the carrying case makes the Droid think it's in GPS mode, and it turns on. So just keep the back of the Droid towrd the belt clip and away from the magnet.)

    2) Some of the snap-on Droid protectors for sale in the VZW store look good and protect it, but they interfere with accessories (dock and GPS windshiled mount, for example. They also make the battery hard to change, make typing on the top row of keys difficult, and partially obscure the microphone. I ditched mine after 1-1/2 days.

    3) The Droid screen seems remarkably durable. If I keep it in a carry case (like the one mentioned above) instead of a pocket with coins and keys, I don't expect the need for a protective skin. I''ll probbaly keep mine 'commando'.

    Cheers! I am looking forward to participating here...

    /SamCal/
  2. Vulcan1600
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    Vulcan1600 DF Super Moderator Staff Member Premium Member

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    I really enjoyed reading your review of your Droid. What amazes me is how good your signal is inside the building with the Droid, and with the tethering from your laptop you need an external antenna. That's pretty incredible.

    Welcome to droidforums.net and look forward to reading other posts by you.
  3. tranz
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    tranz New Member

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    Welcome! It's great to read your review / comments.

    I'm guessing you're at McChord eh?

    Wow, the GPS has been a disappointment to me! I live in Gig Harbor, and don't get an accurate display of my location when inside; it always shows me being in a certain location of somebody's yard about a mile or 2 from my house. Downtown Seattle near the Westlake Center the GPS couldn't locate properly either. Strangely, MyTracks behaved a little better than the native google maps app, but still isn't great, so it must be hardware.

    My car has the 2007 Ford GPS in it, and it rarely looses contact, and even then it stays fairly close, so I had at least some expectations.

    Yeah, the bedside dock is a pretty good deal I agree. I've had mine for about a month.

    I'd bet you'd appreciate the app "On the Level 2", just for it's polish and precision if nothing else. Others:
    Barcode Scanner
    BeamReader
    Astrid
    NoteEverything (merging / buying out 3Bannanna, the best of the 6 or 8 I've tried)
    Home++
    MotoTorch
    Wapedia
    My Tracks
    Audalyzer
    deciBel
    Handcent
    ShopSavvy
    GDocs
    Dolphin Browser
    Missed Call
    GPS Status
    Wavesecure
    Wifi Analyzer
    Bubble

    This is one of the best websites for android forums, androidforums.com is another good one too. For accessories try
    Verizon Motorola Droid Accessories : (5 Star Rating): Google Checkout available.
  4. boatman2220
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    boatman2220 New Member

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    There has been some questions about that port where you're talking about external antenna. Most claim it's a diagnostic port. I haven't a clue, but would like to know myself. Where did your find your information?
  5. SamCal
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    SamCal New Member

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    Thanks for the positive feedback -definitely an ego boost compared to joining newsgroups on USENET! :greendroid:

    /SamCal/
  6. SamCal
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    SamCal New Member

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    Tethering the Moto Droid

    Just to clarify my laptop connection in my original post. It's a Fujitsu T4215 Tablet PC (great rig, by the way, if you're into Tablet PC) and I have the USB727 cellular modem with an official VZW data plan separate from the cell phone accounts. So the connection looks like:

    T4215 USB port <- USB727 modem -> external antenna -> VZW network.

    So there is no tethering in the usual WiFi sense of the word; just the USB727 cell modem trying its best in a difficult environment. As I wrote, the external antenna provides just enough signal to make everything work.

    No WiFi available at work but - just out of professional curiosty - I tested USB tethering this evening at home using the free app PdaNet for Android v2.15. (PdaNet might be useful in an emergency if the USB727 ever gets flaky. The VZW store offered me a free upgrade but I like the USB727 over more recent USB modem 'upgrades' or MiFi because the device has an external antenna port and an easily accessible micro-SD slot. It can be used as a micro-SD card reader for my camera, for example, and automatically mounts as another external USB drive under Windows.

    PdaNet installed very easily and worked perfectly on the Moto Droid (I never did get it to work on the BlackJack). The connection looks like:

    T4215 USB port <- Droid's USB cable -> Moto Droid -> WiFi -> Comcast cable

    The router is an older D-Link DR-625, in case anyone cares. The Moto Droid was in the same room as the router, providing a robust .11n signal (-45 dBm). I didn't have time to drag the laptop around to test range vs. connection quality further away from the router. Maybe in the future...

    Went to www.speedtest.com for a quick check and connected to a server on the other side of my state. Download was 6.57 megabits per sec (Mbps); upload was 2.48 Mbps. Repeatable and comparable results on a couple other servers. That's pretty darned amazing!

    Not sure if this should be posted in another forum so if anyone wants to copy & paste, that's fine with me.

    /SamCal/
  7. SamCal
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    SamCal New Member

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    Hi Tranz. Thanks for the feedback. Gig Harbor, eh? My kids used to live there... I'm not at at AFB, but not too far away...

    I 'tested' the Moto Droid's GPS accuracy today, and my unit appears spot-on. For example, while stopped at an intersection, the blue dot was precisely located at the white 'stop line' painted on the road in the satellite view - right where my car was sitting. I don't think it can get much better than that! One of these days I'll mount the Garmin, Navigon, and the Moto Droid at the same time and do a side-by-side comparison. (Boy, that's really asking for trouble from the Washington State Patrol!) Thanks for the Apps recommendations; I'll check out the new ones I don't already have installed.

    By the way, WiFi Analyzer is cool. I used it last night while testing tethering (another post). Its sweep and display of the channels clearly depicted that I could improve the perfromance of my wireless network by manually selecting a better channel instead of allowing the router do the auto-assign thing. My signal improved from -72dBm to -45 dBm instantly. :)

    /SamCal/
  8. SamCal
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    SamCal New Member

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    Boatman (are there really 2,220 of you?) - I cannot say for certain that it's an antenna connector under the battery cover. However, that jack is located adjacent to the Droid's RF receiver front-end components on the motherboard. Here are some references:

    phoneWreck Motorola Droid Teardown Analysis!

    Motorola Droid Specs & Features (Phone Scoop)

    The specification table at Phonescoop.com specifically indicate the "External Antenna Jack - Under Battery Cover".

    I was going to connect my external antenna to check it out but the RF connector does not fit. No matter - once I saw that Moto Droid's reception is so darned amazing, I will not need the external antenna (except for the USB727 USB cell modem, of course).

    /SamCal/
  9. boatman2220
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    boatman2220 New Member

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    I've gotten good reception with mine also. And a external antenna would come in handy at times.
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